An important aspect across all facets of the sheep and beef production systems in Tullamore Farm is monitoring and evaluating performance. This is crucial in terms of quickly establishing areas where performance is not up to scratch and equally important in identifying strong-performing aspects of the business that can be built upon.
The sheep system adopted full performance recording for the last two seasons, delivering the capability of tracking the performance of every animal on the farm.
Rams are purchased on a combination of physical attributes and desirable €uro-Star genetic evaluations ,with genotyping strengthening the accuracy of trait predictions.
The Sheep Ireland App is used to record performance and this is available free of charge to commercial sheep farmers. All ewes are recorded on the system and lambs are electronically tagged at birth and linked to parentage with the exception of where there are any doubts over the sire.
An extensive array of information is recorded in the first 24 hours including ewe mothering ability, lambing ease, milk yield, lamb birth weight, litter type and lamb vigour. Health traits such as lameness, mastitis etc can also be recorded.
Lambs are weighed at an average of 40 days of age and this information helps to build a picture of ewe milk yield, with weaning and subsequent weights helping to deliver a picture of potential lamb performance on a grass-based diet.
This information is used when selecting replacements and over time it is also returning valuable information on the performance of ewes which will feed in to culling decisions.
Figures 1 to 3 display typical information which can be easily attained from the Sheep Ireland App. The weaning weights comprise 306 lambs weighed from hogget and mature ewes on 7 July 2022.
The average weaning weight of these lambs was 34.47kg with a minimum weight of 15kg and a maximum weight of 47kg.
The average age of lambs was 101 days old or 14.4 weeks of age. Average performance from birth to weaning was recorded at 272g per day.
Performance had been on track to come in significantly above this level but drought-like conditions for much of June led to poor grass quality and lower-quality forage dented performance in the final weeks pre-weaning.